1024px-Teelicht_2009I wrote an article some time ago called Is Busy the New Fine? It came from noticing the change in the answer people gave to that wonderful British small-talk question, “How are you?” For years the standard answer I heard was “fine” (unless the person being asked realised that I wasn’t making small-talk, but was actually interested, then there might be a more honest and forthcoming answer). But over the past few years I noticed that the new interaction went something like this –

“How are you?”

“Busy,” often with a smile, as if this was a good thing.

Now sometimes busy-ness can be difficult. Sure it’s good to be productive and focussed, but sometimes that busy-ness can be all encompassing, overwhelming. When we add to our already busy lives the notifications on our smartphones from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the texts and emails, I don’t know about you but I need some regular time out.

There are two acts that are common to most spiritual paths – meditation and prayer. There is no doubt that meditation has a positive effect on the body and mind and it’s a practice that I’ve included into my daily routine. One of the arguments against a regular practice of meditation is that people just don’t have the time, but even 10-15 minutes each day can have huge benefits. I find the morning is the best time for me, but sometimes, if things have been particularly busy, I try to do another 10 minutes in the afternoon, just to bring things back to a calm centre. It’s always a good thing.

One of the biggest barriers people have to meditation is the idea of doing it wrong. It seems to be a real western issue. Having to get things right. The great news is there are a lot of inexpensive tools to help us develop a practice (and it’s called a practice for a reason by the way).

The three things I use for my practice are:

Headspace – if you have no experience with the practice of mediation, or even if you do, this is a great resource. The free introductory Take 10 series would give you a great foundation from which to develop further, and in themselves they are great 10 minute moments of stillness. There is an app for both iOS and Android but if you decide to subscribe to the deeper lessons do it through the Headspace website, not the app, as it’s about £3/month cheaper.

Insight Timer – another app that reminds you to take that time out. You can set the time of your session, and it will open and close the session with the sound of a ringing singing bowl. Very nice.

Naturespace Audio – If you like beautiful, stereo, background sounds for your meditation then Naturespace is a great app, check it out.

Of course, you don’t need any of these, but I’ve found they do help. So if you don’t already, why not join me and millions of others who have found a regular practice of meditation really helps with stress levels, peace, and calm.